Hip Hop the Scapegoat (www.schememag.com)
Critical Minded > Features > 007 > – May 4, 2007 – by Chad Quinn
In just the last few years, this plague, has been responsible for poisoning our youth, the degradation of our women, to most recently allowing a totally blameless parent to make their infant child smoke marijuana and even more sadly, forcing an honest abiding citizen by the name of Don Imus to make uncharacteristic remarks of people of another race. That damn hip hop, how tragic. However, the real tragedy is that instead of really getting to the heart of a problem with Black America, the powers that be elect to use Hip Hop as a scapegoat. Please grace me a moment as I try my best not to sound redundant about what we all have been talking about for the last few months.
By definition, Scapegoat means: One that is made to bear the blame of others. So if Hip Hop is that one, the question is who are the others? Hmm....our youth, our elders, men, women, media, government, Oprah, I don't know how about all of the above. And I'll get back to that dig at Oprah later. The problem is, everybody needs to take all of this finger pointing and walk directly in front of a mirror. Should Hip Hop take any of the fall for some of the problems with today's youth and society? Without a moment of hesitation, most definitely, but we all are being too modest here, there is more than enough blame to go around.
So let's begin with some of the strongest criticism of Hip Hop. The language is vulgar and genuinely insensitive too most, calling women bitches and hoes is never appropriate and the N word is used like a period at the end of a sentence. All true, all sad but very true. But let's take a deeper look into this, is this really a monster that Hip Hop created? May he rest in peace but the late great Richard Pryor made millions off the use of the N word, as well as the likes of Paul Mooney and many other legendary African American comedians. Now although later on in his career Pryor was enlightened on a trip to Africa and never used the word again, the damage was already done. And did he create this, no, now we all know where the word comes from, so no need for the history lesson on slavery. However, it's important to note that many blacks have flipped the word to use it as a term of endearment, I don't completely buy into this argument either. I too am one of those who holds their head in disgust when I'm on the train and hear a young high school group using the word with total recklessness. This along with a dozen other words should be censored from our media outlets, however, not to sound pessimistic, besides infringing on certain principles of the 1st Amendment, this will never happen.
The depiction of women primarily of African American descent in most rap videos and lyrics is definitely troubling. This is definitely undeniable, however, once again, Hip Hop did not create these images of black women. Since the beginning of time women of color were treated as second class citizens. Once considered to even be unrapable, black women have been fighting a losing battle since the beginning of time. Does this excuse Hip Hop, not at all. Hip hop only continues to perpetuate these negative stereotypes of black women. But at the same time, so does film, government, and yes, black women themselves. With so much criticism of all of these rap videos with these females shaking their bottoms, I haven't heard one story of any of these females being held by gunpoint to perform these acts. Truthfully, there are millions of young girls who can't wait to pop, lock, and drop it in the next video. They say art imitates life, so after getting off stage with a tirade of unpleasantries about his female counterpart, Snoop is still embraced by a number of swarming female fans waiting at the hotel lobby. Does this make him right? Not at all, but he surely can't take the blame alone.
So where is the middle ground? A great question, which Mrs. Winfrey attempted to answer. Right after the reaction to the Don Imus comments, Oprah decided to have a town meeting live on her show about Hip Hop and what it was doing to society. So lets take a brief synopsis at how it played out. Day 1, a group of elitists, intellects of all that is right in America, and also Hip Hop connoisseurs, discussed their passionate views against hip hop, while the 2nd days panel of Pro Hip Hoppers, which included the likes of Russell Simmons, Common, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, and Kevin Liles, watched on. The Anti Hip Hop group were not only allowed to express their views on Day 1, but Day 2 Oprah asked them just as many questions as the Pro Hip Hop group. Not to mention, the Pro Hip Hop group were also attacked by a group of women from Spelman. The result, a pure waste of time. I don't share many of the views of the Day 1 panel, and also I can't stomach calling every rapper an artist such as Russell Simmons felt the need to. Why was nothing resolved? The answer to that is pure disconnect, disconnect between men and women, disconnect between young and old. Rather than learn one another, we result to name calling and finger pointing. Is every woman a "bitch or a hoe?" Definitely not, I don't believe anyone should ever be disrespected like that. At the same time, is every "Nigga ain't sh*t?" no, yet this is popular opinion shared by many black women. The perception is that the majority of Black men are either in jail, gay, or just plain out tired. Our elders, who by God's pure grace we can obtain such wisdom from, instead of embrace us to help us understand, rather dismiss us an call us wild. But just for the record, every time Oprah, Bill Cosby, or whatever elder person it is for that matter, makes a remark demeaning our youth, understand that they are actually taking a shot at themselves. We, the youth did not create ourselves, we represent the fatherless child, AIDS as well as the Crack epidemic, we just need help.
I don't want people to gain anything from this article other than I am an anti Oprah, actually to the contrary I share a lot of her disgust an appreciate all she has done for us as a people, but she also needs to look into her our own backyard. Let's look at some of her quote on quote best friends, say Halle Berry for instance. She's definitely been a fixture in the women's rights movement, with her elegant portrayal of displaying her body in yet another movie soon to come out. Or maybe Tom Cruise, who somewhere in la la land with his Scientologic views, believes women shouldn't make a sound while child bearing. At a time when Oprah was being attacked by the rap community, she was quoted saying, " I have 50 Cent in my ipod. Have you heard the beat on In the club? I love that song." Interesting, but not really. The problem is, even the most intellectual of us plays the hypocrite. Kanye can make a song like Jesus Walks, but then make a remix calling everyone to "throw some D's on that b*tch." I too, must admit my faults, I went from listening to Sa-Ra, to Tribe, to Rich Boy all in one day. But that is the beauty of hip hop that people need to understand. There is a distinction between hip hop and rap that must be understood. Hip Hop is a culture, a way of life. Rap is pure entertainment.
So what does this all mean? Instead of using Hip Hop as a scapegoat we all need to stand up and take some accountability. Parents teach and discipline your kids, don't blame rap music, then sit around talking about the latest episode of Flavor of Love at the dinner table. Young adults, grow up. Our youth looks up to you, why are you sitting on the couch watching 106 & Park while your 15 year old sister calls in for her favorite video. Be a role model. To my elders, don't think you "get it", when you hear a rap song on the radio, that is commercialism, stop using radio or videos as cliff notes, educate yourself really on what Hip Hop truly is. To my beautiful women, stop dancing and bouncing to music that explicitly degrades you, just because "you like the beat", we need more picket lines around these rap videos as if it were an abortion clinic. The sad thing is as we continue to attack each other and like crabs in a barrel bring each other down, Imus is at home laughing at all the turmoil he created. They say we don't have any leaders anymore, this couldn't be further from the truth, the problem is we don't have enough followers. Do I blame Rock music, for the tragedy at Virginia Tech, not at all, we live in a very violent and sexual society. It's time we all do our part, thank you for allowing me a moment.